We set God up, to knock Him down

Now we seek to destroy Him…

I was reading a passage by Donald Winnicott about the development of self. How the infant initially believes they are omnipotent and needs to seek to destroy their mother, as a test of their capacity to be held.

Isn’t it probable that God is not male, or parental at all? Hindus have a far older belief system and think about spirituality entire differently. We – Christians, Muslims and Jews alike – have created an archetypal father figure; which many now revile. But maybe it is necessary for us on this journey that we try to destroy God, and it is in the ever-loving survival of our destruction – that we finally perceive His (or Her) loving reality? Perhaps revealed as something different from the father figure we set up?

What Winnicott said

Donald Winnicott (paediatrician and psychoanalyst) studied the development of the Self within the child. He found that an infant is reliant on a “good-enough” mother (he was writing in the ’40’s, ’50s and ’60’s) to reveal to the infant that their feelings are real. Initially an infant believes he/she is omnipotent. He/she does not know there is a Not-Me. The reality of the loving mother as an “external object” is established by her survival of the child’s attempt to destroy her – and doing this whilst continuing to love. It is a parent’s fundamental role in allowing their child to develop a sense of the their reality in relation to all-else that they provide a “holding” environment within which the child can develop. In Winnicott’s words.. “The self is first made real through recognition, the object is first made real through aggressive destruction; and this of course, makes experience of the object feel real to the self. The object is placed outside omnipotent control by being destroyed while, in fact surviving the destruction”. In an illustrative dialogue about the process “The subject says to the object: ‘I have destroyed you’, and the object is there to receive the communication. From now on the subject says: ‘Hullo, object!’ ‘ I destroyed you.’ ‘ I love you. You have value for me because of your survival of my destruction of you. While I am loving you I am all the time destroying you in (unconscious) fantasy’ ” (The Use of an Object and Relating through Identifications 1969). “Shall I say that, for a child to be brought up so that he can discover the deepest part of his nature, someone has to be defied, and even at times hated, without there being a danger of a complete break in the relationship” (Home Again 1945).